World Day against Child Labour 2011:
ILO, Govt plan new survey to update 3.3m extent of child labour in Pakistan
Globally 115m children caught in hazardous work; ILO calls for urgent action against hazardous forms of child labour
The International Labour Organization (ILO) warns that a staggeringly high number of children are still caught in hazardous work, some 115 million of the world’s 215 million child labourers and calls for urgent action to halt the practice.
The ILO in its new report issued for World Day Against Child Labour 2011 “Children in hazardous work: what we know, what we need to do,” cites studies from both industrialised and developing countries indicating that every minute of every day, a child labourer somewhere in the world suffers a work-related accident, illness or psychological trauma.
The extent of child labour in Pakistan stands at 3.3 million according to first National Child Labour Survey conducted by the Federal Bureau of Statistics in 1996. The ILO is providing technical assistance to the Government of Pakistan to conduct the second national Child Labour Survey during 2011-2012. The technical details are being worked out and survey will start in next two months and will be completed within 2011-12. The new child labour survey will provide updated statistical information on the extent of child labour within the country.
The report also says that although the overall number of children aged 5 to 17 in hazardous work declined between 2004 and 2008, the number aged 15-17 actually increased by 20 percent during the same period, from 52 million to 62 million.
“Despite important progress over the last decade, the number of children in child labour worldwide – and particularly in hazardous work – remains high”, said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. “Governments, employers and workers must act together to give strong leadership in shaping and implementing the policies and action that can end child labour. The persistence of child labour is a clear indictment of the prevailing model of growth. Tackling work that jeopardises the safety, health or morals of children must be a common and urgent priority.”
Last year, the ILO’s global report on child labour warned that efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour were slowing down and expressed concern that the global economic crisis could “further brake” progress toward the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016. One year on, the ILO remains extremely concerned with the impact of the crisis on children.
The report calls for a renewed effort to ensure that all children are in education at least until the minimum age of employment and for countries to establish a hazardous work list as required by ILO child labour Conventions. It also says that urgent action is needed to tackle hazardous work by children who have reached the minimum age but may be at risk in the workplace and calls for training and organizing such young workers so that they are aware of risks, rights and responsibilities in the workplace.
The report also says exposure to hazards can have a particularly severe impact on children, whose bodies and minds are still developing late into teenage years. The report looks in detail at six economic sectors: crop agriculture, fishing, domestic service, mining and quarrying, and street and service industries.
Children have higher rates of injury and death at work than adults, as shown by a range of research studies. A substantial number of children experience long working hours, which significantly increases the risk of injury. The largest number of children in hazardous work is in Asia and the Pacific. However, the largest proportion of children in hazardous work relative to the overall number of children in the region is in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the decline in the total numbers of children in hazardous work is among girls. Over 60 per cent of children in hazardous work are boys. Hazardous work is more commonly found in agriculture including fishing, forestry, livestock herding and aquaculture in addition to subsistence and commercial farming.
The ILO report concludes that while there is a need to strengthen workplace safety and health for all workers, specific safeguards for adolescents between the minimum age of employment and the age of 18 are needed. These measures need to be part of a comprehensive approach in which employer and worker organizations and the labour inspectorate have particularly critical parts to play. So far 173 of the ILO’s 183 Member States have committed themselves to tackling hazardous work by children ‘as a matter of urgency’ by ratifying ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour.